The Story As It Appeared In
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Originally Posted Jan 29, 2004
Revised:

Ex-lottery executives to lobby for retailers' gaming interests
Association will push lawmakers for hike in ticket sales commission

Thursday, January 29, 2004
By GEORGE KUEMPEL

AUSTIN – Two former Texas lottery executives have teamed up to lobby for a group they say has long been neglected – the 16,000-plus lottery retailers.

Keith Elkins, the lottery's former communications director, said the association also will cater to lottery players and winners.

Retailers, he said, have yet to see an increase in their nickel-a-ticket commissions after more than a dozen years on the front line for the lottery.

Mr. Elkins said the problem is that retailers have no strong advocate at the Legislature or Texas Lottery Commission.

"Emus and ostriches fare better in Austin than retailers," Mr. Elkins said.

"In Austin, if you have no clout, no muscle, it's hard to get representation."

He is teaming up with Rob Kohler, who resigned recently after 12 years with the lottery commission where he served as retailer licensing supervisor and contracts manager.

Mr. Elkins spent six years at the agency before leaving last year.

Retailers will be charged from $75 to $1,500 annually, depending on their lottery tickets sales, to join the association, The Lottery Group.

One of the first priorities will be to try to get retailers more money, Mr. Elkins said.

Under the law, retailers must get at least a 5 percent commission on ticket sales. The lottery commission set the amount at 5 cents a ticket by rule and can increase it at will.

Mr. Elkins said that lotteries in New York, South Carolina, West Virginia and New Mexico are among the states that pay retailers 1 to 2 cents more.

Mr. Elkins also said retailers also should be compensated for the use of their money to pay winning tickets. They are credited only for the actual amounts of the payments.

If retailers are better rewarded they will push ticket sales harder, and the lottery – and state – will benefit, he said.

Mr. Elkins said the association also will look after the player's interest by "truth-testing" all lottery advertising and encouraging lottery winners to pitch in to improve the games.

He said the goal is not to be adversarial but to work with the lottery for the benefit of all involved.

"We're not out there to throw rocks," he said.

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WOW - Can you believe it? Keith Elkins has changed positions and will
start lobbying for the rights of players and retailers. Me Oh My!

I absolutely cannot believe the timing of this story because just yesterday,
I faxed a letter - based on YOUR comments - to ALL Texas Legislators
regarding YOUR objections to the expenditure of $12.4 million for
self service terminals (SST's). The TLC's solution for decreasing the
retailers work load to TRY to satisfy their demands and to
increase sales was another BAD decision.

I will post more about Keith and Rob's efforts as soon as I
obtain details of what they are doing. In the meantime, read
my letter and know that I've done as you've requested.

My letter to the all members of the Texas Legislature.
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